Specialty tasters for foundation doctors

Definition of a taster

A taster is a period of time, up to five days, spent in a specialty in which the foundation doctor (FD) has not previously worked. Its purpose is to enable the development of insight into the work and ‘lifestyle’ of the specialty and promote careers reflection.  

Tasters are available for both F1 and F2s.

“Deaneries/Foundation Schools should make a greater effort to meet one of the important purposes of the Programme – to ensure that trainees experience many different specialties – by maximising and simplifying access to tasters.” Foundation for Excellence (Collins Report) 2010


One of the original aims of the Foundation Programme was to ensure that doctors have access to a wider range of specialties in a variety of care settings prior to selecting a career path. This is reflected in FPC13 of the 2021 Foundation Curriculum (‘Understanding Medicine’). Currently, most FDs who go directly into specialty training are exposed to four or, at most, five specialties before they apply. Short “tasters” in other specialties help to address this.

There is evidence that any experience in a specialty, however brief, can be influential in a career choice. These experiences may confirm that a particular choice is appropriate or the FD may learn through this experience that the specialty is not what they had expected and exclude it as a future career choice. 

There are 61 CCTs which are formally recognised in the UK, as well as a further 40 or so sub-specialties.

Tasters must not be used simply to accrue time, competences or procedures in a specialty with a view to furthering applications.

Adapted by Tony Choules (Advisor to UKFPO) Nov 2023 from “Guidance on Specialty Tasters for Foundation Trainees” by Melanie Jones March 2021